What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein present in three grains — rye, wheat and barley. As your teeth sink into a warm bagel or squishy bread, you experience the soft texture that gluten adds to foods. (x) This protein is in dozens of products, including pasta and cereals.
You may have heard about a friend avoiding gluten as part of a diet trend. For others, this becomes a way of life because of celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. These are three separate reasons for eliminating gluten. But what can you eat? And what should you avoid?
What Can I Eat on a Gluten Free Diet?
Start with red, ripe strawberries, crunchy carrots and a juicy steak. Luckily, these examples are all safe for people with gluten issues.
- Meats (check for marinades or sauces)
- Whole Grains
- Unprocessed Foods
Fresh fruits and vegetables are a healthy choice for everyone. These options provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals. For folks looking to omit gluten, these are worry-free foods. For celiac patients seeking to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables, it helps to replace the nutrients their bodies could not hold.
Meat is another safe option if you purchase ones without added sauces. When you bring it home, add flavor with gluten-free ingredients you know are safe. Seasoned steak with potatoes and salad exemplifies a mighty meal you can still enjoy while staying symptom-free.
There are many gluten-free options with whole grains — amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, cornmeal, flax, and teff. (x) Don’t despair if these suggestions are initially unfamiliar to you. Rice and quinoa are also safe. For baking, there are loads of options, including flours made from rice, corn and potatoes. (x) Some can substitute for white or wheat flour in your favorite cookie, cake or brownie recipes.
The last bullet point refers to products without additional additives or fillers. While canning, freezing and packaging is “processing,” we are looking for foods with short ingredient lists. A can of green beans or a bag of frozen broccoli are both tasty options.
What Not to Eat on a Gluten Free Diet
Modifying your diet is essential when you are dealing with celiac disease or have gluten sensitivity. (x) As trace amounts of gluten can be present in a surprising number of products, reading labels will become second nature.
While we know to deliberately avoid wheat, rye and barley are also on the unsafe list. Included as well is malt and brewer’s yeast. You probably heard that malt is an ingredient to make beer, but you also can find it in candies, hot dogs, sauces and medicines. (x) It’s in many products, so please check with a dietitian or a doctor if you are unsure.
Brewer’s yeast has many nutritional benefits and cures several digestive issues, except for people who need to avoid gluten. (x) You can find it in some alcoholic drinks and loaves of bread.
You may not realize that the trickiest part to avoid gluten may be those “dubious” products. These are items that may have been cross-contaminated in factories by other foods. The box or bag can say “gluten-free,” but it can still contain trace amounts. (x)
How to Avoid Gluten
It can discourage you when you see foods eliminated from your shelves, one item after another. Before long, you will quickly learn which companies stick to safe handling measures. Then you can make wise and happy substitutions.
While you explore, look for information on how to keep your kitchen safe. Knives, pans and toasters can contain gluten, so two sets may be necessary. Cookie sheets are another item to consider, as the baked-on batter may remain. (x) Counters, kitchen sponges, cooktops — all kitchen areas need to stay clean and free of crumbs. The same is true about eating at restaurants, so you will need to research your choices.
A trend at restaurants is to list dishes that are “gluten-free” with a symbol on the menu. The gesture shows an understanding, and you can appreciate the effort. It would help if you still examined the kitchen and the accuracy of what is gluten-free. Cross-contamination can occur among cutlery, pots and pans, cutting boards and dishes. A tiny piece of a whole wheat bun could find its way onto the diner’s plate. (x) For some, this minor amount is enough to cause pain, discomfort and additional damage.
Getting advice from a dietitian is vital to maintain health for those affected by gluten. A qualified professional will explain the necessary lifestyle changes. An expert will also follow up with patients to check their progress.
Gluten and Celiac Disease
Patients who cannot tolerate gluten deal with many symptoms. Many are GI in nature, including flatulence, diarrhea, constipation and stomach pain. Other symptoms may be harder to connect, like skin rashes or depression. Fatigue and weight loss are also common. (x)
While weight loss may sound enticing, it may be a dangerous sign. It may show you are not getting enough nutrients from your food.
Celiac disease is more than an allergy — your body cannot process the ingredient and trying to do so causes damage to your small intestine. These patients suffer from a lack of nutrients, as the small intestine cannot absorb these from foods.
While you have several body parts associated with digestion, the small intestine is a vital player. Tiny hairs, or villi, absorb the crucial nutrients from our foods. Those hairs become damaged or are no longer doing their jobs when you have celiac disease. (x)
Celiac disease is in the autoimmune category. The immune system tries to fight the gluten, causing internal injury. If untreated, additional harm can happen to your body and lead to other severe conditions. (x) Roughly 1 percent of the American population has celiac disease, which denotes 3 million people. (x)
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity presents itself with similar stomach or digestion issues. While your body doesn’t experience damage, it still suffers from similar constipation, diarrhea or headaches that those who have celiac experience. These patients need to avoid gluten, just like celiac patients. This sensitivity is much more common than celiac disease, affecting 18 million Americans. (x)
One very significant difference is the testing for celiac disease. The first step is blood work. If your doctor sees celiac disease indications, he refers you for an additional procedure, called an endoscopy. (x)
When the medical team performs an endoscopy, they sedate you and insert a tiny camera orally. It travels down through your stomach, providing a view of the intestines. They take a small biopsy for examination. (x) The results are available within a week, in most cases.
This test examines the small intestine and stomach to determine the damage and seems to be the only reliable celiac disease indicator. Unfortunately, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not a quick diagnosis.
As you eat differently, you could notice several benefits. Some patients increase to a healthier weight, as their bodies are now keeping nutrients from the food they eat. Others see rashes and skin conditions clear up. Many patients realize the sensitivity related to the side effects associated with the gluten they were formerly consuming. (x)
After months on a new routine, you could experience more energy, fewer headaches or a greater appetite. The length of accurate recovery time varies, although some patients report feeling better after a few weeks.
Supplements That Help Ease Celiac Disease
Celiac disease may prevent you from assimilating your nutrients in the food you eat, so it might be healthy to add supplements to your diet. You should always consult your physician before taking any new supplement. Some supplements may directly benefit your body if you have this health concern. You may find positive results taking these supplements:
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a common deficiency, even if you have a healthy gut. (x) Low levels of vitamin D may prevent your body from drawing in the calcium from your diet. Those with malabsorption condition, like celiac disease, most likely are deficient in Vitamin D. (x)
If your body is low in vitamin D or you have celiac disease, vitamin D3 may positively influence your body’s needs. (x) Consider taking at least 50 mg a day to help ensure your body maintains its healthy levels. It easily absorbs the bioavailable form.
Osteoporosis is a long-term health concern if you have celiac disease. Supplementing with calcium can help sustain your bone health. Add calcium lactate powder to your diet as its gluten-free and dissolves in water for easy absorption. (x)
Gluten-free diets lack enough protein to sustain a healthy body. (x) Some result in eating red meat as an excellent source of not only protein but zinc. If your body has low levels of zinc, it might cause deterioration of the GI system. (x) If you consider being on a gluten-free diet for health, keep in mind the importance of supplementing zinc orotate. It’s gluten-free and an excellent source of bioavailable zinc. The recommended amount is 100 mg one to three times daily.
Where to Buy Supplements for Celiac Disease?
You can purchase these powders and supplements for celiac disease at BulkSupplements.com. The company is an industry-leading manufacturer and distributor of pure dietary supplements.
BulkSupplements.com is not just a consumer brand. It also supplies pure ingredients to other food and supplement brands to make their products. All products at BulkSupplements.com are manufactured and tested according to current and proper manufacturing practices.
Are you interested in trying any of these powders or supplements mentioned in this article as a possible solution to help absorb nutrients? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
Gluten-Free Diet and Weight Loss
People choose to avoid gluten to lose weight. There is little evidence to support this idea. However, if we think about the average person’s intake, they may consume dozens of items containing gluten in a week.
If you avoid those foods and replace them with fresh, whole food choices, you could lose weight. If you eat more processed gluten-free items, such as the fresh bread, pasta, and cookies available, you may gain weight. Often, those gluten-free processed foods have extra sugar or fat to add flavor. (x) As with all diets, losing weight depends on your new habits.
If you want to go gluten-free to shed pounds:
- Plan your meals and snacks.
- Learn where gluten hides and which alternatives are healthiest.
- Like any other diet change, eat less junk, exercise and drink plenty of water. (x)
- The difference involves the effort it takes to find all those hidden sources of this protein.
The Bottom Line
Eliminating gluten from your diet can be a daunting task. Use the experience of your dietitian, health care provider, and reputable websites to help you sort through the information. They will also guide you toward a proper diagnosis.
Fruits and vegetables are a healthy addition for everyone, so you cannot go wrong with those choices. You do not need to banish all grains, but will need to seek other varieties. It takes time and effort to replace these food items, and labels are not always entirely correct.
Researching information will be necessary. Your family members can assist with this by looking for new foods for you to try. We are fortunate that more food choices are in development as awareness increases.
A diagnosis of celiac disease or non-celiac sensitivity is difficult to hear. It affects all aspects of your life, and you may become discouraged. Feeling disconnected since many social events involve food, these events can be hard to adjust to when you need to stay gluten-free, leading to a desire to eat “regular” food.
Talk with your physician about supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals. Research supports taking supplements such as calcium, vitamin D, and zine may help replace nutrients your body has a hard time absorbing.
Changing your lifestyle or diet can have side effects. Always contact your health care provider beforehand and follow his or her recommendations.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.